Lesley Aeschliman

Manga Review: Seraphim 266613336 Wings

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Seraphim 266613336 Wings is a manga collaboration between Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon. The story is set on a future earth, in an area heavily influenced by China and its history. The world has been devastated by a plague that induces apocalyptic visions in the afflicted as it ossifies their bodies into dead, seraphic forms. This release marks the first time that Seraphim 266613336 Wings has been released in North America.

Seraphim 266613336 Wings cover

Seraphim 266613336 Wings

Written by: Mamoru Oshii
Publisher: Tokuma Shoten
English Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: February 25, 2015
Order a copy of Seraphim: 266613336 Wings TPB to be delivered by winged courier to your doorstep!

In Seraphim 266613336 Wings, three characters are referred to as the Magi: two men who go by Melchior and Balthazar, and a dog known as Caspar. They travel with a cult-ridden and army-backed medical unit known as WHO in order to fulfill their mission of escorting a mysterious young girl named Sera to the Taklamakan Desert. Their journey sees the group encountering obstacles and learning truths about their situation. Melchior and Balthazar also find themselves wondering whether they have gone on this journey to kill or to cure.

Even though Seraphim 266613336 Wings is supposed to be set in the future, several of the characters the Magi and Sera encounter are actual people, groups and events in modern Chinese history. In fact, the volume includes quite a few footnotes at the bottom of the pages to give some brief explanations about the people and events that the characters encounter. And with the use of the Magi, it should be obvious that there is also some religious imagery included in the story as well.

The story is a little slow to get going at first, since a lot of the early part of this volume is spent establishing the characters and their world. But once all of the basics are established and the story really starts to get going, the reader has a better understanding of what they’re reading and it’s easier to become interested in what’s going on. By the end of the volume, the story and the characters grab the reader and don’t want to let go. Unfortunately, Seraphim 266613336 Wings was never completed, so the story suddenly stops just after a major event takes place. While it’s a little disappointing and frustrating that the story is incomplete, it’s understandable since this is all that exists for a manga that ended almost 20 years ago.

Satoshi Kon’s art is incredible in this volume, and he did a fantastic job with the character designs, especially his depictions of Caspar the dog. Amongst the various images and imagery included in this volume, one of the most memorable scenes that Kon drew for this story is a character realizing that he’s standing on a plain of funerary tablets that stretches out to the horizon. Even panels that would normally seem ordinary look impressive enough that it almost feels as if the art is about to literally jump off the page and come to life. Kon’s art style and sensibility works incredibly well to complement the story that Oshii is presenting.

Carl Gustav Horn, the editor for this English release, wrote an afterword that goes into great detail about the background for both Oshii and Kon, the background on Animage (the magazine that serialized Seraphim 266613336 Wings), the creation of the series, and explanations of the Chinese history references that are included in the story. The afterword is on the lengthy side, but it’s very helpful so a reader can better understand the story and what they just read.

Seraphim 266613336 Wings will probably have the strongest appeal to readers who are fans of either Oshii or Kon and have an interest in seeing this previously unreleased work. The story might also appeal to manga readers who enjoy stories with apocalyptic settings that don’t mind the fact that the story is incomplete.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by Dark Horse Comics

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